Meet Layla Kennedy, a Junior at Lourdes University whose unexpected journey took her from a charter boat in the Virgin Islands to the bustling world of the Country Music Awards (CMAs). As a Digital Media Studies major with a concentration in Marketing, Layla landed a remarkable position as a Production Assistant at the CMAs.

Layla’s journey to the CMAs began unexpectedly with her dad’s interest in YouTube boating videos. Layla’s father was so inspired by his favorite online creator, Alan Carter, that he decided to charter a boat himself. While in the Virgin Islands on the charter, Layla’s family spotted Carter’s boat. Seizing the opportunity, Layla reached out to him on Instagram.

What started as a social media exchange evolved into Layla’s entrance into the world of production. As it turns out, Carter is also a director of the CMAs, and he extended an invitation for Layla to attend the event. Some time went by, and Layla, a budding Digital Media professional, reached out again inquiring about internship opportunities. To her surprise, Carter offered her the role of a Production Assistant, marking the beginning of Layla’s firsthand experience behind the scenes.

Layla’s role as a Production Assistant involved managing the hundreds of walkie-talkies that played a pivotal role in coordinating the event. One of the highlights of her experience was handing a puppy to singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini backstage, as part of an initiative to promote pet adoption. She also got to play with Post Malone’s dog and see Morgan Wallen. From rehearsals to the main show and teardown, Layla was there every step of the way. The best part, she says, was being able to witness the entire process from start to finish. “It was like a dream,” she remarked.

Throughout her journey, Layla received unwavering support from the Lourdes University community. Her academic advisor, Krista Sá, cheered her on, recognizing the value of such an incredible opportunity. “She was so excited [for me],” Layla reflected. She also extends gratitude to her cheer and dance coaches, Kortney Nieckarz and Lauren Wilson, who accommodated her busy schedule, allowing her to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime experience. She also thanks Mr. Carter for “believing in [her] and taking a chance on [her] without even knowing who [she] was beforehand.”

As Layla reflects on her time at the CMAs, she simultaneously looks forward to her future. With a passion for direction and production in the music or sports realm, Layla is eager to explore new opportunities. She hopes to be invited back to assist at next year’s CMAs, continuing to build on the experience she already has, as well as all she will learn in the coming year.

Layla’s journey to the Country Music Awards is a testament to the surprises life offers. Her story highlights the power of seizing opportunities, the importance of community support, and the excitement of venturing into uncharted territory. As Layla looks ahead to her future, we can’t help but be excited for her journey.


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